Ambushed or simply rained on at Wimbledon?

Those of you who have been watching Wimbledon over the years may have wondered why the players have to adhere to a strict all white dress code on Court and keep advertising messages to a minimum. In fact Wimbledon has had very little sponsorship over the years and what few sponsors it has had have been discrete and long standing. (Rolex and Slazenger if you really want to know!). I assume it makes most of its money from TV broadcasts. Wimbledon prides itself on keeping commercialism to a minimum, and its images clear of advertising. I assume that is also why the BBC maintain coverage of it.

The players complain about this as it limits the amount of money they get paid for endorsing products. However, Wimbledon now has a new problem to contend with – ambush marketing. Ambush marketing is pop up marketing designed to attract the crowd or even better the TV cameras with unofficial sponsorship messages. As an act of fun and rebellion it often works very well, and of course it steals the thunder of sponsors who have funded an event. Hence its irritation to the organisers.

Ambush marketing is a relatively new and inexpensive concept but it is one that event organisers are acutely aware of and now have to tackle at grass roots level. Spectators at Wimbledon and elsewhere are now routinely “frisked” to check they don’t have material on them which would compromise the event on TV. Whilst people can take in a limited amount of their own food drink and other items such as umbrellas, the staff are maintaining a vigilant line on anything that bears the potential of an ambush. So 30 people all wearing the same tee shirt with Dunlop on would probably be asked to leave!

Some tournament organisers have taken this one step further and in some circumstances people can only buy sun hats, umbrellas and rain capes inside the event, and branded with the official sponsors brands on. The Olympics took a similar line and within the Olympic Park you could only buy official sponsors goods.

Outside the event, there are still opportunities to ambush market but the environment is less controlled and the opportunities for publicity are less. Wimbledon has already asked some ambush marketers to stop leafleting in-coming spectators on their way into the ground. Moving people on in a public space can be quite difficult to achieve. Ambushers do however, undermine the work of the official sponsors.

Which brings me to the point that I’d like you to take away today. What is it that you can extend your brand into?

One of the key questions we ask clients who want to trade mark their brand is “what brand extensions will you need in the next few years?” If you are in entertainment or online education, then you may well be making DVDs or CDs of your work. You may be creating some merchandise such as key rings clothing or books and as such your brand may need trade mark cover in those classes to protect you. By thinking strategically about the IP in your business, you may well be able to position yourself as the big event organisers do, and have serious sponsorship deals.

Or indeed you may want to make public the fact that you’re not restricting the consumers purchasing choices once at an event.

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